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30-Minute Paleo Dessert Recipes: Simple Gluten-Free and Paleo Desserts for Improved Weight-Loss
30-Minute Paleo Dessert Recipes: Simple Gluten-Free and Paleo Desserts for Improved Weight-Loss
Price: $4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars My best dessert cooking experience ever!, May 1, 2014
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This is the first recipe book I have come across that delivers on the promise of quick and simple recipes. Seriously, I have had so many experiences of a book claiming its recipes were simple, and finding that no, I need to be a professional chef for that claim to even be plausible. But with this book, I can come home exhausted from work and still throw a recipe (or two!) together. And so far (having tried the chocolate brownies, chocolate coconut fudge cups and chocolate truffles), all the results have been delicious!

And all this for recipes that are Paleo!

Networking Fundamentals
Networking Fundamentals
Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I'm impressed, June 2, 2013
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Everything I've ever previously read about networking was all about getting around a room throwing out as many of your business cards as possible. As someone who is shy, no wonder I hated the thought of networking, and was only willing to buy this book because of the reduced price. In retrospect I'd have been willing to pay the previous full price or close to it. I was quite surprised to find myself enjoying reading a book about networking - I had given up on any material about networking being of any use to me.

The approach of this book feels very different to my previous reading about networking.

The author focuses a great deal on building genuine relationships and avoids a friendship-pushing approach. There is also quite a bit of material on building your "personal brand" that somehow manages to not sound fake and image-obsessed but more like being mindful about how others see you. He devotes a lot of space to communication and self-presentation that feels like an analytical breakdown of how networking situations operate and what "output" to expect given certain "input".

I appreciated the specifics about social interactions, even if some of it did irritate me. For example, the author discusses how being a picky eater can make a bad impression. I like eating most things, but I have allergies to common restaurant ingredients. The author didn't discuss allergies, but for me the thought followed anyway, and I didn't like the thought that avoiding things that make me unwell can make a bad impression. Except that it can - quite few people don't take allergies seriously and classify the person as a picky eater, which in turn looks bad. So maybe I shouldn't fault the author for basically saying it like it is.

I really appreciated that the author went into details of how to manage networking interactions - even small notes on eye contact in a large space, having a drink in your hand to so as to look more part of things, what your business card should look like, presenting yourself and your work in a way people will remember, doing research on people you want to contact and material you want to talk about, and following up with people in a manageable fashion. And despite the fact that the author clearly has gone on heavy drinking sprees, he also includes some advice on how to manage social situations tactfully if you want to avoid drinking too much. I appreciated he didn't leave out people like me who don't have a high capacity for alcohol and want to maintain a good impression.

Each chapter is paired with material from another author. I'm sure it was meant to add to the content, but to me it was a distraction and didn't add much new.

This book got me thinking a lot more clearly about how networking "works" and generated a good dozen project-level action items for me to improve my networking. I consider the book particularly good considering the author's age (under 30). It would be interesting to have him address the topic of networking again in 10 or 20 years and see what more he has to say.

Lowrey's Original Bacon Curls, Microwave Pork Rinds (Chicharrones), 1.75 Ounce Package, 18 Count
Lowrey's Original Bacon Curls, Microwave Pork Rinds (Chicharrones), 1.75 Ounce Package, 18 Count
Price: $15.99
10 used & new from $15.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Maltodextrin, Flavouring and MSG - Yuck, June 2, 2013
I couldn't see an ingredients list and decided to try them anyway. Serves me right for not researching further, but I think I got carried away by the microwave-and-pop idea. They popped up nicely, but tasted weird, almost like plastic. I'm going back to a previous brand, which claims to contain pork and salt and nothing else and at least tastes like I expect.

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life
Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life
Price: $6.99

196 of 207 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Their blog is great. This book, not so much., July 3, 2012
Firstly, let me start by saying that I only subscribe to four blogs, and the blog by these authors (The Minimalists) is one of them. At a time when so many people are being hit with so many things that look like they need to be done, the authors are really good at using minimalist principles to focus on what is important.

That's what they do in their blog. That's not what I found in this book. Apart from the occasional sentence mentioning that minimalism helps you focus on the important things, the rest of the book contains:

- Details on the authors' story of how they became minimalist and left their jobs. Only a small amount of added information compared to their blog, but I did enjoy that part.
- A chapter on the importance of eating unprocessed foods and doing exercise. No information that was new to me.
- A chapter on the importance of prioritizing the more important relationships in your life and working to eliminate relationships with negative impact. No real concrete directions other than to create a list of all the people in your life and catalog how close they are to you and whether their impact on your life is positive, negative, or neutral, then prioritize your use of time accordingly. Several pages about things like love and trust being important in relationships.
- A chapter on the importance of finding your passion, having a mission in life rather than just doing a job. One really good paragraph about the idea that if you don't know what your passions are then you still have anchors, things that are dragging you down (like stress from debt for example).
- Chapters on the importance of growing as a person and contributing, but again no real advice other than to get doing that stuff.

The problem I have with all this is that I already know these things, and I would imagine most people do. The biggest gain I have had from reading the authors' blog is how to attack the clutter that gets in the way of me executing on these, and unfortunately this is not what this book was about. The authors do make attempts to talk about how to get the emotional energy to achieve the important things, for example they talk a little bit in this book about how you need to go from an attitude of "should" to an attitude of "must", but that totally leaves unaddressed the fact that the stuff that's cluttering up our time and resources somehow got itself into the "must" category when it shouldn't have, and now what? How to actually wade through it to reverse this take-over? (Again, please note that I think their blog does speak to that).

If you have the same problem as me, namely clutter (whether it be stuff, commitments, whatever), and want ways to help untangle yourself from it to actually make space for the "real stuff" you want to do, and already know that real stuff to be important, then I wouldn't read this book. Instead I have found the following very helpful.

- The blog by these authors.
- Leo Babauta's "The Power of Less", especially the sections where he goes through his ideas on forcing prioritizing to happen by limiting time spent on an activity, and how to start small on a change of habit.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 20, 2015 11:54 AM PST

New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great.
New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great.
by Jeff Volek
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.21
488 used & new from $0.01

41 of 51 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simple this is NOT, May 7, 2011
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I'm not qualified to critique the research or results. Indeed, most of the people I know who have successfully lost weight and kept it off did indeed use some variant of the Atkins diet. But, the diet presented here is not simple as the book claims.

The rules to follow go on for pages. And you have to count carbs, which is just as complicated as counting calories, especially when a certain number of your carbs must come from the "foundation vegetables" group (as defined by a list given in the book). The "permitted" foods lists are long, the book in fact recommends you photocopy them until you learn them by heart. I thought perhaps that's not as bad as a really long "forbidden" foods list, but if you infer the forbidden foods, that list turns out to be really long as well. The reintroduction of carbohydrate food has several stages, and the recommendation in a given stage is that you reintroduce new foods one at a time to see how they affect you - which of course you must carefully monitor.

If the diet is meant to involve so much less suffering than calorie deprivation, why so many pages on how to keep yourself motivated and deal with the wish to eat the wrong things? Why so much insistence that one must keep a food diary to track all the possible things that might go wrong (such as too little fat, too much protein or indeed too many calories), and have a support buddy to call the moment you get a craving? The "success story" of a woman who failed at the Atkins diet twice and then finally spent some months educating herself about the Atkins diet before seemingly succeeding on the third try is consistent with all the effort that this seems to involve.

I have done calorie-restriction dieting, and the diet in this book seems much more daunting to me. I have also done a medically mandated allergy/intolerance elimination diet, which involved reintroduction of foods to check for their effects, and the diet in this book seems more daunting to me.

Perhaps the original Atkins diet was simpler, I haven't read the literature and possibly that's what I should look at next. And perhaps if you're going to have a diet that is more flexible (as this one claims to be) then you simply cannot avoid added complexity.

I don't plan to throw the idea of low-carb out the window. In fact I know I don't do well on high carb foods so I plan to explore the whole idea further. And if one is less likely to be hungry on this diet, then that's obviously an enormous gain. But the authors should not claim that the diet/lifestyle they describe is simple.

The other problem I have with this book is that most of the concepts are mentioned in a very repeated fashion and the book could have been much shorter.

Addendum to this review: I've now also read Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, Revised Edition, by Dr Atkins, so I have further comments.

For the most part, New Atkins for a New You is a rehash of Dr Atkins' book. Except Dr Atkins' book has the material organized better. Plus Dr Atkins does a much better job of explaining the technical aspects of ketosis and how the studies he cites are actually related to the claims he makes. One could argue that the newer book references newer studies, but I find that of little value unless the authors actually explain how the studies support the claims they are making, and I don't think they do a good job with that. In addition, Dr Atkins has some information on what to do if you are unusually resistant to weight loss and the normal Atkins regime hasn't done the trick. Also, I personally found Dr Atkins' motivational tips (in comparison to the ones in New Atkins for a New You) for how to stay on track to be much more concrete and applicable, that could be just a personal preference since I'm a techie.

New Atkins for a New You does have one thing that Dr Atkins' book doesn't - descriptions on how to modify the diet if you're a vegetarian or vegan.

If you're not in that category, don't bother with this book, get Dr Atkins' book instead. Yes, it was published 8 years earlier, but the information is better.

If you're pregnant, Dr Atkins goes so far as to say you can do the Lifetime Maintenance phase, but neither book actually gives details. Since Lifetime Maintenance is about maintaining the same weight and pregnancy involves gaining weight, you'd need to translate what Lifetime Maintenance means for your situation, presumably with the help of a doctor.

In any case, the Atkins diet is not simple. There's a lot of thinking and analysis involved. If you have metabolic resistance to weight loss, that may be unavoidable, I don't know.
But I would recommend Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, Revised Edition much more highly than this book.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

105 of 124 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A little of everything, and therefore unfortunately not much of anything, November 3, 2010
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This book covers a lot of ground, and none of it is covered with any rigour or depth.

There are occasional interesting pieces of insight - for example, if you want people to reduce their energy usage, it may be enough to tell above-average users that they are in that category - below-average users, not so much, they may then use more energy - but you can counter this by a nice smiley emoticon next to where that fact is displayed (implying they're doing a great thing by using less energy) and their usage will stay low.

The problem is, to gain these nice pieces of insight, I had to dig through much much more content that was not covered well.

Here are some of the the things you'll find in this book

- A superficial review of psychology research concerning a few factors on how people make choices (For example, too many choices lead to overwhelm and bad decisions. Another example - people can be influenced to make a bad decision if others around them are making bad decisions).
- A explanation of how people can be helped to make good choices, for example with food, by where food is placed on store shelves (e.g. at eye level vs not).
- Many many pages of excruciating detail on why choices of medical insurance plans can be a complex and painful process. Ditto for how the complexity of investing can lead to bad investment choices. None of this is original.
- A fairly basic solution proposed to complexity of choices - regulations to require providers to provide information on the implications of their choices - for example, lenders should provide documentation of the implications of a given choice of loan - what you'd end up paying over time (not just at the time of initial "special deals") and what the worst case scenario would imply in terms of costs for you. This information, the authors advise, should not be buried in the fine print. Very very obvious stuff.
- A chapter on making organ donation to be opt-out instead of opt-in. One of the better chapters, with some evidence given of it having worked in some countries. But could have been dealt with in a few paragraphs, did not need to be stretched to a chapter (admittedly a short chapter).
- Some attempts at philosophical argument for why governments should be allowed to "nudge" people to better choices, but not done to any depth or rigour.
- Several side comments that did not provide any new insights - for example, that the principle of what actions are being taken by those in authority should be transparent might have prevented the atrocities at Abu Ghraib. Again, nothing original here.
- Several trite pieces of advice about how publicising a commitment you've made (e.g. to lose weight) and setting up disincentives for failure (e.g. a certain amount of money to be donated to a cause you disapprove of) can help you achieve the goal. Again, nothing new here.
- A more reasonable chapter on privatizing marriage - the goal being to allow religious groups to endorse marriages based on their convictions, but for all partnerships to be granted equal legal status. Not really related to the concept of nudging though, and drawn out and padded with sociological thoughts on what function marriage has historically served, which does not seem to be the authors' field of expertise.
- Random pieces of advice such as permitting motorcycle riders to not wear helmets if they take extra training and show evidence of medical insurance. If I could be sure that they are also paying higher insurance premiums I might not be too annoyed at that one, but the authors don't venture into this area of discussion so again I felt their treatment of this topic was incomplete.
- A recommendation that the Social Security Administration assist those claiming benefits by making more clear at what age you should start collecting the benefits if you want to obtain the maximum amount of money by it (allowing for things like, maybe I'm ok with less money if I want it sooner). Having a payer assist a payee in taking maximum advantage is nice and altruistic, good luck with getting that happening.

Overall it felt like the authors had a collection of unrelated instances of advice that they were trying to force to fit the concept of a "nudge".

If you are interested in this kind of content from a psychology viewpoint, read Freakonomics (Dubner and Levitt), Predictably Irrational (Ariely), Influence (Cialdini), Tipping Point (Gladwell). For the investment advice and bits of self-help associated with that, David Bach does a better job in his various books.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2015 9:25 PM PDT

Simply Car-free: How to Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life
Simply Car-free: How to Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Would have been good as a blog article, July 8, 2010
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I like what I have read of the author's blog [...]. Unfortunately the content contained in this book would have easily fit into a long-ish blog post. The author talks about cost savings associated with going car-free, gives a few specifics on equipment needed for bike maintenance, and adds some pep-talk.

The author includes a bit of her own story about going car-free. Having more specifics of that might have made up for how un-specific a lot of the advice in this book is. As it is, the reader gets neither.

I'd have been happy to pay a dollar or so for this book, but not the price that it is selling for.

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